Squarespace vs WordPress | 5 Differences For You To Know

Last updated on November 6, 2016

Here are the 5 items you should consider when evaluating Squarespace vs WordPress:

 

1) Flexibility

Squarespace is not an open source website builder, so only their in-house developers are responsible in creating their tools.

This means that all their website building tools are built by the same team to ensure that none of the tools will conflict with each other and are of high quality.

All the tools provided by Squarespace are closely controlled, monitored and tested within their own operating environment, so you won’t have to worry about certain functions not working, conflicts with your website, or even breaking / crashing your website.

But this does mean that you won’t be able to easily integrate non-Squarespace tools (though not impossible if you really want to, to a certain extent).

If any issues arise, Squarespace has a dedicated, 24/7 support team to fix them for you (more details below).

WordPress is an open source platform so you can customize your website however you want to – provided that you are a capable coder (or if you are working with a strong coder).

WordPress is an open source platform so you can customize your website however you want to – provided that you are a capable coder (or if you are working with a strong coder).

The free plugin developers may or may not help you when issues arise. Buying premium plugins will entitle you to support, but that does not guarantee that they will troubleshoot all issues for you as the conflict may be caused by other plugins (which is beyond the premium plugin developers’ control).

There are really good WordPress plugins out there, but just be careful and test them thoroughly with your site before using them, or they may have negative implications on the performance of your website.

2) Ease of Use

Squarespace is a much easier website builder to use, compared to WordPress.

It is a drag & drop website builder, so you can place content almost anywhere you want to, without touching a line of code.

Squarespace is ideal for people who are not tech-savvy, don’t have interests in learning codes, or just don’t have the resources (time & money) to deal with codes or building highly customized sites.

It also provides you with a comprehensive library of user guides (video & text formats), so becoming good at building websites with Squarespace is not too challenging.

But don’t be fooled that only beginners use Squarespace, as this platform is used by all levels of website owners (including very advanced users, or large organizations).

The learning curve of using WordPress is much steeper than learning how to use Squarespace.

WordPress is not a drag & drop website builder, so if you want to reformat your page layout (such as inserting a slideshow on the top right corner, or moving a piece of content to an exact spot) you will have to modify your template codes in order to do so (or hire a capable developer to help you do that).

Although WordPress is a very powerful platform, to be able to use it effectively, it’s inevitable that you will need to modify some codes to achieve what you want.

If you are proficient with code, or working with a good coder, WordPress can definitely deliver a much more customized site than Squarespace.

3) User Support

Squarespace provides you with a dedicated, 24/7 support team to answer your questions should you have any.

They provide 24/7 email support (in which they respond within 1 hour), user guides (video & text), live chat (Monday – Friday, between 3am – 8pm EST), and also forum support.

As mentioned above, since all the tools are built by Squarespace themselves, they will be able to take ownership of issues and resolve them (instead of shifting this responsibility to other developers).

Since they have a dedicated support team for you, all questions from you are answered, and it does not matter how many times the same questions were asked by others before (unlike the WordPress forum).

WordPress has a massive forum that includes millions of posts where people are asking questions in search for answers.

A lot of questions are answered, and a lot of questions are also not answered. Also, just because questions are answered, does not mean that they are solved effectively, or at all. Getting questions responded to also might take days.

The challenge is due to the volume of questions being asked, and a lot of the questions have been discussed before. So if you post a question, it might be ignored as it has been asked in the past. So you may have to dig through volumes of forum postings to find some sort of answer to your question.

As mentioned above, no one really “owes” you an answer unless you pay for it. And given WordPress.org and a lot of its plugins are free to use, getting someone to respond can be difficult (unless you hire a good WordPress developer to help you).

4) Ongoing Maintenance

As mentioned above, Squarespace is a “closed” system so they manage all the performance and security updates for you.

You don’t have to click any update buttons, or worry about any potential conflicts. All updates are tested by the Squarespace team and deployed to your website automatically.

Having all this managed for you, frees up your time to focus on other things that are more important to you.

WordPress is continually updating its platform to fix bugs and improve security. When there are updates, your WordPress dashboard will alert you, and you just have to click the update button to update your WordPress version.

That is the easy part. The challenging part is that when WordPress updates, your theme and plugins will also need to be updated.

While a lot of theme and plugin creators will also update to ensure they adopt WordPress’ latest updates, a lot won’t (especially for free themes & plugins). So this potentially exposes your website to user, performance or security issues.

So the ongoing maintenance work, especially if you don’t have a person / team dedicated to managing your website, can be an additional burden to you.

5) Pricing & Ongoing Financial Commitments

Squarespace offers you 4 price packages :

  • Personal $12/month
  • Business $18/month, Basic Store $26/month
  • Advanced Store $40/month)

The higher the plan, the more tools you get.

The monthly plans include the drag & drop website building interface (no coding required), designer templates for you to choose from, hosting services, and dedicated support team.

It’s pretty much a one-stop-shop service where you pay a monthly fee to get a full serviced package, without having to piece together bits and pieces like you would have to with WordPress.

If you sign up for an annual plan, Squarespace gives you a free domain for the first year ($10 – $15 value).

The ongoing cost of using Squarespace can range from $144 (Personal Plan) to $480 per year (Advanced Store Plan).

Unless you are in need of an advanced ecommerce store set up, you will most likely only need to use the Personal or Business plans. So the price per year will usually range from $144 to $216.

I would say that just the 24/7 dedicated support (with 1 hour email response time & live chat), as well as having all the technology managed for you to free up your time, is already well worth the monthly plans (getting good help on the internet nowadays is difficult and rare).

With WordPress.org, you will have to find your own hosting services which can cost about $7 per month (being very general here, as the range really varies depending on the quality of the hosting service provider. Here is a special rate from Bluehost).

If you purchase a premium theme, this can cost you anywhere from $30 – $80 per theme (depending on how reputable the theme developer is).

While a lot of plugins are free, some of them are paid as well (ranging from $15 – $50 per plugin), depending on what you need and if you want support (as mentioned above).

You will also need to purchase your own domain name($10 – $15 per year).

The initial investment can range from $139 to over $200, depending how many premium plugins you pick up.

If you hire a developer to help you build your site, make modifications or for troubleshooting, your cost will go up substantially on an ongoing basis, and can be a challenge to budget for.

Don’t forget that the learning curve of using WordPress effectively is also fairly high. So you should factor in the cost of your own time as well (this is a “hidden cost”).

See our Detailed Review Squarespace Review WordPress Review

Summary:

Squarespace – Easier to use (no need to know code), less maintenance and lower cost and ongoing commitments in the long run.  Costs are very predictable and you get dedicated 24/7 support.

WordPress – More flexibility and highly customizable (if you are proficient with code). But higher maintenance, higher learning curve and most likely higher financial commitment in the long run.  Costs are less predictable, depending on whether you need to hire a coder to help you (no dedicated support), the frequency of hiring, and the quality / caliber of the coder.

Website Builder (Squarespace) vs WordPress SEO Guide – see our opinion about SEO with website builders such as Squarespace and how it compares to WordPress.

Considering other website builders?

Take a look at our Website Builder Comparison Chart, or take a Free Quiz to see which website builder matches your needs.

Also see our Comparison Chart of Website Builders for more detailed differences

Not sure which website builder works best for you? Try our Website Builder Matching Quiz

Click here to see our full, comprehensive discussion comparing Squarespace and WordPress

 

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Jeremy Wong

About Jeremy Wong

Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.

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Jeremy Wong

About Jeremy Wong

Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.

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18 Responses to Squarespace vs WordPress | 5 Differences For You To Know

  1. #

    One of the big advantages of SquareSpace is their stability, you can count on their features to work. Unfortunately they appear to be changing their strategy by slowly removing key features without first consulting with users. For example, they recently announced a surprise decision to remove their Post by Email feature without first checking with their customers. This was a feature that I actually requested that they expand on. Their response had been that they will consider it for a future release.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Tzvi,

      Thanks for sharing this update with us. It is unfortunate I suppose. For those reading this comment who aren’t familiar with this “Post by Email” feature, it allows you to write your blog post in an email, send the email and Squarespace will post the blog post for you.

      I guess the reason why they removed this feature is that you can actually download an Apple or Android app (the Squarespace Blog App) and create and post your blog posts using this app. I’m guessing that the app is much more integrated with your Squarepace website (compared to just an email) as it is built from the ground up just for blogging purposes.

      Sometimes, website builders will trim their features if they are outdated and/or not highly utilized by users to remove / reduce bloat. Perhaps they are re-channeling their focus to the blogging app.

      Jeremy

  2. #

    Hi! I have my own domain and it’s powered by WordPress and after reading up on the benefits of Squarespace, I was wondering if I could use my current domain for Squarespace? Any way I can convert?

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hey Nurhaida,

      Yes you can. You can just connect your domain name from your domain name registrar to your Squarespace website. Squarespace’s support portal will have tutorials on how to do that. Just search for “domain name”.

      You can also see our domain name guide here for more in-depth discussion.

      Hope this helps!

      Jeremy

  3. #

    Hi Jeremy,
    Great comparison article. I would be a newbie building an author website. Just so I’m clear, with Squarespace, I would have unlimited ability to upload content changes I make to the site, right? And Squarespace itself is doing the hosting for the $8/month personal price?
    Thank you,
    Bert

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hey Bert,

      Yes – you can make unlimited changes to your Squarespace website.

      For the $8 plan, you everything Squarespace lists out on their pricing page for that specific plan. Note that the Personal plan is $8 / month only if you subscribe for a full year. If you choose to pay on a month-to-month basis, it’s $12/month.

      Hope this helps!

      Jeremy

  4. #

    Hey Jeremy,

    This is SO helpful thank you very much : ) I am considering using Squarespace since I am a beginner and have been trying to figure out wordpress for too long with little progress. I want to start with a very affordable plan and then upgrade as my business grows and I can afford more. Do you know if it’s possible to start with a personal squarespace site and then upgrade to a squarespace business site with minimal effort or would I have to start over?

    My website will be for a therapy and life coaching practice and I won’t really be trying to sell much on there so may not need to upgrade but would like to know I have the option if needed.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Tori,

      Glad our comparison here is helpful to you! It’s probably even more meaningful as you’ve had first hand experiences with WordPress.

      WordPress is a very powerful and awesome website builder, but it only works well if you have the technical skills to use it effectively. Squarespace enables users who are not technical, and who don’t want to invest a lot of time to hit the ground running and have a great looking site published quickly.

      Most business owners are way too busy managing a business, and don’t have too much spare time to learn how to code. Or, not everyone has a reasonable budget to hire a designer and coder to help set up WordPress in a professional way.

      To answer your question – Yes you can definitely start with the lower Personal plan, then upgrade as necessary. You keep your existing site and you just upgrade (or downgrade) your plan. So your website and content will not be affected in anyway way.

      Hope this helps!

      Jeremy

  5. #

    Hi Jeremy – I’m interested in setting up a personal website for purposes of being an affiliate of an established business. I’ve secured a domain name through GoDaddy and need to now set up a simple website so that people can order the business’ product via my website. I was under the impression that there are “free” websites … but am not sure this is true. I don’t need a complicated, fancy website – more of a utilitarian, functional website with information about ordering the product through me, but with a link to the established business. What do you advise?

    Many Thanks.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Nancy,

      If you are looking to use a free website builder, Squarespace or WordPress.org will not work for you. Squarespace only has a 14 day free trial period, and WordPress.org require you to get your own hosting solution.

      Take a look at Wix, Weebly or WordPress.com. All of them have free plans, but they will not allow you to use your own domain name unless you upgrade to one of their subscription plans. I suppose this is a limitation so they can advertise their platform, in return for allowing people to use them for free.

      Jeremy

  6. #

    From a developers perspective:
    I have worked in both environments and think all of these are valid points. Setting up an initial site is easier on Squarespace (SP) than WordPress (WP) but not by much. There is a steeper learning curve for WP considering that it isn’t just drag and drop (unless you have the visual composer or equivalent). WP is cheaper for an initial build compared to SP; however, if you are building an enterprise environment and are familiar with code be prepared to fix a lot of errors. WP is built on PHP (for CMS content) with language injections. You can find Jeff’s review of PHP here: http://blog.codinghorror.com/the-php-singularity/

    While SP is built on HTML5, CSS, and JS with code (block) injections. If you have your MCSD: Windows app store (HTML5), transitioning to SP is effortless, comments are in the content, and code blocks are easy to understand. Learning PHP was similar to the scene in Demolition Man, “He doesn’t know how to use the three seashells!” Additionally, MSSQL to MySQL is a completely separate beast that would need to be tamed.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Thanks Dr. Jones for sharing your thoughts!

      Jeremy

  7. #

    Nice comparison.
    Although I don’t think your cost cost comparisons are fair. WP offer so much stuff for free that the initial cost of launching a site is hosting and a domain name. I have build more than 50 wp sites and never once paid for anything premium – this I feel you are neglecting in your comparison.
    The other one and maybe more important one – what happens if square space goes belly-up? Then you will loose everything that is a risk to consider when choosing a closed setup

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your comment and fair points.

      Upgrading to premium plugins or not, is a personal choice and of course depends on each user’s own needs. For a couple of our business websites that are built with WordPress, we do have a number of premium (paid) plugins, as we needed the extra functions, and also wanted a plugin provider that will stay updated with WordPress upgrades so that the plugins remain in good working function.

      So it’s really driven by what you need, and what gives you a peace of mind. But I’d agree that generally speaking, most plugins are available for free (but are also exposed to certain risks as discussed in the chart above).

      As for the potential of Squarespace going belly up – it is a possible risk for sure. One thing I usually look at, is the history of how long a business has been operating for, how reputable they are (businesses with poor reputation has a higher risk of shutting down), who’s funding the business, etc.

      In the case of Squarespace, they have been around since 2004 (over a decade ago), have a very strong brand / reputation, including broadcasting Super Bowl commercials 2 years in a row, and reputable investors have invested in the business. WordPress’ parent company, also has a very strong reputation, branding, and are funded by reputable investors as well.

      I agree that all businesses do have bankruptcy risks, but in the case of Squarespace, my own personal opinion is that they are in a good trajectory to serve even more people who want to build websites, for years to come!

      Thanks for bringing up your points and adding to this discussion – they’re very helpful indeed!

      Best,

      Jeremy

  8. #

    Hi Jeremy,
    I have a host for my website and other IT items in Wisconsin.
    Can SquareSpace sites be hosted on my current host and not
    use the hosting part of the SquareSpace services?

    Thanks much, Jim

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Jim,

      Squarespace includes all the hosting requirements for you to power your website. So you can’t use their drag and drop website builder, while have your own hosting services. The benefit of this, as mentioned in the discussion, is that they take are of all the technical parts of building websites, such as security upgrades, bandwidth management, etc.

      Hope this helps!

      Jeremy

  9. #

    My ten cents worth is never use a CMS that is tied to one provider or host. You can easily get trapped and have difficulty moving to another provider/webhost if prices go up or service levels decline. WordPress is the market leader by a country mile for a reason. The core package is free and always will be and so are most plug ins and themes. You can even host it yourself on an old computer with Ubuntu installed, for a totally free set up (apart from buying a domain). Ecommerce is easy, Woocommerce has paypal gateway all set up and is free. I’ll never get trapped with a proprietary software package ever again, Viva Open Source! Big up to WordPress! I’ve built heaps of sites with WordPress and Woocommerce and they are always a winner.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hey Andrew,

      Thanks for your comment and contributing to this discussion.

      I suppose there isn’t a definitive right or wrong answer as to which one is better, as it’s always circumstantial and based on personal preferences.

      But your point is definitely valid, is that with WordPress.org you can port your site from one host to another. WordPress is also a lot more flexible than Squarespace, but in my opinion that comment is mostly true if one was code savvy or is working with a capable coder.

      While a lot of the tools (such as Woocommerce) are free, there is a chance of these tools conflicting with one another, and therefore needs to be fixed by a coder. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. With Squarespace, all the tools are managed by them to ensure they all work properly under “one roof” so to speak.

      Squarespace also offers a lot of advantages (as highlighted above and also in this discussion article), particularly for those who are not knowledgeable (or want to be bothered with) codes.

      Don’t get me wrong, we use WordPress ourselves for blogging and are big fans of it. But for folks who have different needs, depending on time, financial and technical constraints, Squarespace also offers a lot of value there.

      Thanks again for adding to this discussion! I really appreciate it.

      Jeremy